NSO Group, an Israeli spyware firm, announced on Sunday that CEO Shalev Hulio is stepping down with immediate effect, with Chief Operating Officer Yaron Shohat appointed to oversee a reorganization of the company before naming a successor.
Hulio, who oversaw the company's mergers and acquisitions division while it battled years of bad press that turned the Herzliya-based company into an internationally reviled pariah, will continue to work for the company.
The reorganization, according to a statement from NSO, would look at "all aspects of its business, including streamlining its operations to ensure NSO remains one of the world's leading high-tech cyber intelligence companies, focusing on NATO-member countries."
According to a company source, approximately 100 employees will be laid off as part of the firm's reorganization, and Shohat will lead the company until the board appoints a new CEO.
The surveillance company that creates Pegasus software has been dealing with legal action as a result of claims that governments and other organizations used its capabilities improperly to hack mobile phones.
Governments and spies from all around the world have sought out the company's Pegasus software, which enables users to secretly activate the microphone and camera on private devices, despite the fact that it maintains a client list that is private.
Due to the alleged abuse of its surveillance software, NSO has been linked to a number of scandals. The U.S. government put the business on a blacklist last year after alleging that its tools had been used to "conduct transnational repression."
Since then, NSO has lobbied to be taken off the blacklist, spending "hundreds of thousands" of dollars on the marketing effort.
According to the company, Pegasus is only offered to foreign countries after receiving permission from Israel's Defense Ministry to be used as a tool for apprehending criminals and terrorists. It claims to have safeguards in place to avoid misuse, but detractors claim these measures are insufficient, and NSO has acknowledged it is powerless over who its clients choose to monitor. It claims that it does not have access to the data that is gathered.
NSO has stated that its technology is marketed to "vetted and reputable" government clients and is meant to help catch terrorists, pedophiles, and hardened criminals, though it maintains the confidentiality of its client list.
Because of the company's cutting-edge technology and demonstrated capacity to help its clients fight crime and terrorism, governments and law enforcement agencies continue to place a high value on its goods, according to a statement from Shohat.
"NSO will ensure that the company's groundbreaking technologies are used for rightful and worthy purposes," he added.